Mountain Equipment, one of the UK’s best known equipment manufacturers, is 50 years old.
I think I must have come across ME for the first time round about the late sixties when I bought my first duvet jacket. Everyone in my climbing club, the Lomonds in Glasgow, had a duvet although most folk only seemed to wear them in the pub. But you couldn’t be a climber in those days without having a duvet jacket, so I bought one.
It was an early Mountain Equipment model, and for the life of me I can’t remember which model it was. But it was big and bulky and very warm and I used it mainly when I dossed down in my car, an Austin A35, which had a lousy heater.
Years later I met Peter Hutchinson at the Harrogate Trade Show and got to know the ME team, and the gear. Not long after Gore-Tex first arrived on the scene a team from ME and some others, including my old friend Bill O’Connor and myself, took one of their American executives up Bidean nam Bian in Glen Coe. This poor exec type wasn’t in great condition and he struggled all the way. Even worse, only Bill O’Connor, good mountain guide that he is, had an ice axe, and when we realised the escape route down into the Lost Valley was still chock full of snow we found ourselves in an awkward position.
Eventually Bill climbed down into the Lost Valley and went back to the Clachaig to collect the van. The rest of us trundled down the snow-free side of the hill into Glen Etive, where Bill eventually collected us. I seem to recall the guy from Gore swore he’d never climb a Scottish hill again.
Anyway, enough of my reminiscing. Check out the ME website for a great film of the company’s history, a film that also traces the last 50 years of British mountaineering. It’s well worth watching.